Know When To Fold ‘Em – Don’t Leave Your Success To Chance

I’ve been told that all of my hobbies involve a certain amount of danger or risk. Some say that my love for cigars is crazy and hazardous, but I’ve been able to learn so many things and reach so many people through that pastime. I also love poker. Sure, there’s a financial risk involved, but if one pays close attention to the actual game and the people playing it, it goes much deeper than that just a love for money.

Poker-CigarThe intricacies of the game involve many life and business lessons, that if applied correctly, can help us to change many of the outcomes we oftentimes are dissatisfied with. Today at Performance I Create, I scratch the surface on how we can take the fundamentals of a game of poker and equate them to what we deal with in the workplace:

…one of the most important things to know about playing poker is knowing when to stay in the pot (keep betting/risking) and knowing when to get the heck out of dodge…or folding…which is just like the advice I often give to managers…the wins stack up when you are insightful enough to let someone else take this pot, so that you can bank more later… 

Click HERE for the full article and please share! Then maybe we can discuss the topic further over a hand of Texas Hold’em.

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Recruiters Roll Cigars

I’m always asked why I’m so fascinated with cigars. While there are several reasons to enjoy a fine hand-rolled cigar, I have a love and appreciation for things of different types, backgrounds and origins coming together to make something beautiful. I admire the thought, the process, and the detail that contributes to the cigar experience.

I guess the reason I love them so is the same reason I love being a Human Resources Practitioner. Nothing gives me more pleasure at work than being able to bring multiple people together, with varying ideas and backgrounds, and to help forge them into a cohesive, functional, successful team. When it works well, when it’s seamless, the consumer looks past the different departments, levels or ingredients and can focus on the quality of what they are getting for their money.

I’m always amazed at how skillful and point-on many of my recruiting partners in crime are at seeking out and reeling in quality talent that fit their organizations. Like Master Cigar Blenders, they are able to take the vision and mission of the organization, communicate them, and come back with people (like tobacco) that can not only do the job, but that embody what the organization is all about. Leaving lasting impressions and creating experiences that foster loyalty and has their clientele coming back for more.

It’s in the Selection
tourThere are hundreds of tobacco types in the world, but only a select few are deemed worthy enough to be included in a fine cigar. It takes someone with a trained eye, a keen sense of taste and someone who knows the industry to select a leaf:

  • that comes from trusted growers = educational background and career goals
  • that is grown and processed according to company standards = business acumen
  • that is cured and aged properly = business and industry experience, knowledge and exposure

Putting It All Together
Just because the ingredients are good individually does not mean that it will all work together. It takes hundreds of combinations and trials to get the right effect and the proper balance. Improper tobacco pairings are nasty and harmful to a brand. Have you ever had a team of extremely talented individuals that just could not seem to accomplish anything together? While it seemed like a “Dream Team” on paper it became a nightmare in the meeting room. The pieces have to compliment one another and someone has to put those pieces together.

Anyone can bring bodies into the organization, but it takes a skilled crafts-person to identify potential, evaluate current cultural strengths and recognize organization needs to recruit the best individuals for fit, balance and for “taste”.

It takes a Master Blender of People, a skilled Recruiter, to select the best:

RollingFiller – mixture of leafs that make up the middle of the cigar – the front-line employees

Binder – leaf that holds the Filler together – much like managers and supervisors

Wrapper – most visible part of the cigar, the ingredient that gives it the most flavor – the face of the organizationthe Executive Leadership

…and bring them together to create a work of art. Your successful organization.

If you know of a company that is making a difference in their industry and the community …one that offers a wonderful product and an even better consumer experience…it starts with how it was blended. It starts with the skillful Recruiter. If you see a group of employees that just seem to click…seem as if they were just made for one other…leadership that stands out for the right reasons… it was not by accident, they were selected for fit and flavor by the company’s Master Blender, the skillful Recruiter.

Theirs is a behind the scenes, sometimes thankless job, but it is necessary and critical for us to be able to consume and partake in the things we enjoy.

Be sure to check out my CigaHr blog for info, videos and cigar reviews.

Old School Politicians, Pipes and Delayed Reactions

Pipes and cigars were a staple with small town politicians and leaders. Not just because they enjoyed smoking, but in many forums and public meetings it was not uncommon when asked questions for them to pause, take a draw from their pipe or cigar and then answer the question. Not only would this allow them time to compose an intelligent answer, but also a chance to survey and gauge how the crowd would or wouldn’t react to the statement.


An instrument of trust

Because of the deliberate, patient and thought out responses, it was often said that you could always trust a man with a pipe.

Fast forward to 2013. We don’t trust anyone. Not because people don’t have our best interests at heart, but because they oftentimes don’t know how to articulate it. Before those we are supposed to listen to and trust can express what they are feeling, they’ve inserted a foot in their mouths and we hear their first thoughts…which may not be what they really mean.

Have you ever said or done something in a professional or personal setting and wished you had a “Do-Over”? If you haven’t, you’re in denial and people probably don’t like talking to you. Because we are emotional creatures, we sometimes abandon logic and tact when confronting issues and stating our cases. Emotion is necessary when dealing with humans, but balancing them with tact, professionalism and logic keep us credible, respected, listened to and ultimately employed.

More often than before, leaders are finding themselves having to clean up more messes that are created by their own words. There are too many impatient and emotional sound bites that’s could have been avoided had a deep breath been taken, or had we counted to five before responding.

Seeking to gain credibility and position, we tend to think that we must be the first to speak up when there’s an issue…the first to impose our will and opinion on those with contrary views…the first to answer before everyone else…the first to recite empty rules and policies verbatim. We must be willing to give up those style points to ensure we’ve uncovered every stone, surveyed the crowd and anticipated possible outcomes…instead of shooting off at the mouth and having to back-peddle later. Slower and right garners more respect than smart, witty and wrong.

Did you hear something? I didn’t.
We mistake authority and a right to speak our minds with respect and effectiveness. Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all!  Our message, even when correct and justified, means nothing if it falls on deaf ears. Deaf ears are not necessarily those that don’t want to hear our truth, but those that have become numb or uninterested in what we’re saying because of past interactions and a lack of consideration in delivery. Becoming better communicators means we realize that it’s not only about what we are saying, but how well we can relate it to the receiver. Knowing the audience is equally, and sometimes more important than knowing the material. Those old politicians weren’t necessarily the smartest people, but they knew who they were talking to and what made them tick.

There are reasons employees avoid bringing issues to leaders these days:

  • because they’ve seen or heard us in action… or lack of
  • because of the textbook answers we give trying to seem smarter than everyone else
  • because of the physical queues we give off before we even get through our first sentence

Our energy and demeanor when communicating are critical in obtaining, and more importantly re-establishing buy-in and trust.


Hmm…well…let me see…

Those old dudes knew what they were doing. They were slow to speak so they could get it right.  Audiences walked away with confidence, feeling listened to and with solutions in hand that made sense because they were tailored to their needs. That level of communication, problem-solving and respect are necessary today for leaders to be effective in rallying their teams and maintaining confident and productive workplaces.

What cigars taught me about the work experience.

I love a great, quality cigar…a real cigar…not the kind you can buy at Walgreen’s or Exxon.  Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few things about cigars, business and myself from being a part of the cigar culture.  I’ve learned lessons on quality and patience.  I’ve learned how to network.  I’ve even learned how to win poker tournaments!  While at my favorite cigar shop enjoying an Ashton VSG (my favorite), I began to equate my transition from a novice cigar consumer to a Cigar Aficionado with my journey through the workforce, specifically in Human Resources.

Like most people, my first time walking into a cigar shop was overwhelming.  Wall-to-wall product, in all different shapes, sizes, price points and brands.  What in the world do I choose? Once I make a selection, what do I do with it so I don’t look like a confused rookie?  I’m supposed to look cool doing this, right? So, I asked questions, the staff asked me questions.  Dialogue ensued and I started to not only learn about the different blends and sizes of cigars, but also about myself and the things that I may enjoy.  I was shown how to properly cut, light and enjoy a cigar from those that had been enjoying them for years.  Discussions (online and in person), magazines and blogs by other experts gave me insight into the industry and kept me abreast with current trends.

Once I decided to start investing in cigars and building up my supply, I again solicited the advice of experts on how to properly store and care for these delicate little masterpieces because improper maintenance and poor preparation can ruin the taste, construction and ultimately the experience. It was also stressed upon me that like a fine wine, cigars get better when they are properly aged.

Let’s bring this home to business.  When I received my undergraduate degree, I had NO idea of what I was going to do professionally. If you’ve ever seen a deer’s eyes react to headlights, you’ve seen the look on my face when trying to find my place in the workforce.  But instead of bolting out of the proverbial cigar shop, I continued to do my research and study.  I began to ask questions of people who knew far more than me when it came to finding professional fulfillment and success.  I enlisted the help of experts and I listened to what they had to say, and just as important, the things they didn’t say.  I was careful to keep in mind that the flavor and strength they preferred (their goals and talents) might not necessarily be what stimulates my professional palate.

I learned how to be deliberate in my actions and how I would maneuver and conduct myself in the workplace.  Remembering that like with a cigar, cutting too high could cause it to unravel…cutting too low would make it hard to smoke.  How exposing the foot of the cigar to too much flame could cause it to burn unevenly and taste charred; a taste that lingers for days.  Care, attention to detail, and precision allowed me to progress and find my niche professionally, thus enjoying the experience and making me want to return for more each day.

Proper care had to be taken of the opportunities that were before me.  Carefully hand-crafted positions were made available, and it was imperative that I accepted the challenges and nurtured them so that they would not dry up and become unusable.  Realizing that the storage process took time, I realized the importance of committing that time to obtaining advanced degrees and certifications in one’s chosen field.  These steps helped me to find my favorite cigar/profession.  And by respecting and caring for it, it returned the favor by developing and caring for me.

While our professional and personal efforts may sometimes leave a charred and bad taste in our mouths at first, we learn from the experiences and develop our crafts.  With ongoing research, proper execution and care, that bad taste becomes a pleasant one and we begin to experience success, and more importantly satisfaction in our daily efforts.  The world slows down around us and we are able to take in the aroma and satisfaction of the experience, and not just the daily functions and monotony of work.